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Case TitleSHAPIRO v. DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
DistrictDistrict of Columbia
CityWashington, DC
Case Number1:2016cv01399
Date Filed2016-07-04
Date Closed2018-02-01
JudgeJudge Trevor N. McFadden
PlaintiffRYAN NOAH SHAPIRO
Case DescriptionResearcher Ryan Shapiro submitted several FOIA requests to the FBI for records concerning Operation Mosaic, a program designed to highlight problems the FBI was having as a result of the 1974 FOIA amendments. The agency responded to some requests by indicating that it found no records. Shapiro subsequently requested records concerning the processing of those FOIA requests. He appealed the no records decisions to OIP, but after the agency failed to either respond to his requests or rule on his administrative appeals, Shapiro filed suit.
Complaint issues: Litigation - Attorney's fees, Failure to respond within statutory time limit

DefendantDEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE
AppealD.C. Circuit 18-5123
Documents
Docket
Complaint
Complaint attachment 1
Complaint attachment 2
Complaint attachment 3
Complaint attachment 4
Opinion/Order [35]
FOIA Project Annotation: Judge Trevor McFadden has ruled that the Department of Justice properly responded to seven requests from researcher Ryan Shapiro pertaining to Operation Mosaic, an attempt by the FBI to convince Congress to limit the applicability of the 1974 amendments to the agency. Shapiro relied on a 1982 article written by then-FBI Director William Webster explaining that release of seemingly innocuous information could lead to the revelation of sensitive information when combined together with other pieces of seemingly non-sensitive information, usually referred to as the mosaic theory. Shapiro requested FBI file 94-69979, which contained Webster's article. The FBI disclosed 49 pages. He then requested records on Operation Mosaic, but the agency informed him that the only record it found was the Webster article. He then asked for records relating to the term "mosaic." The agency rejected his request as too broad for it to conduct a search. Shapiro then asked for series 94 files, which represent FBI research matters, referring to FOIA or the Privacy Act. The agency found 1.1 million potentially responsive records and after searching for five and a half hours without finding any responsive records, the agency closed his request. He next asked for records referring to "Operation Mosaic" and "mosaic study." The agency told Shapiro it had found no records responsive to that request. Shapiro next requested records pertaining to the processing of three of his previous requests. In response to this request, the agency disclosed 185 pages with redactions. Shapiro's last request asked OIP to provide records pertaining to his prior three requests. OIP located 128 pages. It disclosed 24 pages in full, seven pages in part, and referred 97 pages to the FBI. Shapiro claimed the agency had not conducted an adequate search because it had not conducted a detailed enough search of its Electronic Case Files database. McFadden agreed, pointing out that "since the FBI determined to conduct an ECF text search, it should have used a method " here, search terms " that would reasonably be expected to produce responsive records. As investigative files may be referred to both with and without the office of origin, both [94-HQ-69979, the search term used by the FBI, and 94-69979, the additional search term requested by Shapiro] should have been searched." But McFadden indicated that he had ordered the FBI to search under both terms and its search had still come up empty. McFadden also indicated that he had ordered the FBI to perform an ECF text search for "Operation Mosaic" as well, which yielded five additional records, none of which were deemed responsive. McFadden rejected Shapiro's claim that the FBI should have searched under the term "mosaic," noting that "given the FBI's ECF search of 'Operation Mosaic' produced no responsive records, conducting an ECF text search for 'mosaic' is not a necessary component to a search reasonably calculated to uncover records responsive to Mr. Shapiro's request." The FBI determined that it had 119 shelves containing "94" files and that even an electronic search produced 8,300 potential hits. McFadden explained that "the FBI's collective five and a half hour paper-based review and electronic review of the first 100 hits did not flush out any indication that further review would likely contain records responsive to Mr. Shapiro's request, and I have no reason to believe the expenditure of further limited FBI resources would be worth the effort." The FBI redacted portions of search slips created during the processing of Shapiro's FOIA requests under Exemption 5 (deliberative process privilege). McFadden agreed with the redactions, noting that they "reflect FBI employees' comments as to how they searched for documents potentially responsive to Mr. Shapiro's requests, and the employees' evaluations as to the responsiveness of certain documents resulting from their searches. These comments were made during the FBI's search and review process " i.e., prior to the FBI's final determination on these documents " and are therefore predecisional as well as deliberative."
Issues: Adequacy - Search, Exemption 5 - Privileges - Deliberative process privilege - Deliberative
User-contributed Documents
 
Docket Events (Hide)
Date FiledDoc #Docket Text

2016-07-041COMPLAINT against DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE ( Filing fee $ 400 receipt number 0090-4590947) filed by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Civil Cover Sheet, # 2 Summons, # 3 Summons, # 4 Summons)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/04/2016)
2016-07-042NOTICE OF RELATED CASE by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. Case related to Case No. 1:13-cv-729-PLF. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/04/2016)
2016-07-05Case Assigned to Judge Paul L. Friedman. (jd) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-07-053SUMMONS (3) Issued Electronically as to DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE, U.S. Attorney and U.S. Attorney General (Attachments: # 1 Consent Form)(sb) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-07-054Case randomly reassigned to Judge Randolph D. Moss. Judge Paul L. Friedman no longer assigned to the case as not related. (ztnr) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-07-055STANDING ORDER: See attached document for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 7/5/16. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 07/05/2016)
2016-07-226RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed as to the United States Attorney. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney on 7/6/2016. ( Answer due for ALL FEDERAL DEFENDANTS by 8/5/2016.), RETURN OF SERVICE/AFFIDAVIT of Summons and Complaint Executed on United States Attorney General. Date of Service Upon United States Attorney General 7/6/2016. (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 07/22/2016)
2016-08-047Consent MOTION for Extension of Time to File Answer re 1 Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Posner, Michael) (Entered: 08/04/2016)
2016-08-05MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the consent motion for extension of time 7 , it is hereby ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED. Defendant shall respond to the complaint on or before September 5, 2016. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 8/5/16. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 08/05/2016)
2016-08-05Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant shall respond to the complaint on or before 9/5/2016. (kt) (Entered: 08/05/2016)
2016-09-068ANSWER to Complaint by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE.(Posner, Michael) (Entered: 09/06/2016)
2016-10-269ORDER FOR INITIAL SCHEDULING CONFERENCE: The Initial Scheduling Conference is hereby set for November 28, 2016, at 2:00 p.m. See attached order for details. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 10/26/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 10/26/2016)
2016-10-26Set/Reset Hearings: An Initial Scheduling Conference is set for 11/28/2016, at 2:00 PM, in Courtroom 21, before Judge Randolph D. Moss. (kt) (Entered: 10/26/2016)
2016-10-27MINUTE ORDER: The Order for Initial Scheduling Conference 9 was entered in error and is hereby VACATED. The Initial Scheduling Conference originally set for November 28, 2016, is also VACATED. It is FURTHER ORDERED that, instead, the parties shall appear for a status conference to discuss the state of the litigation on November 7, 2016, at 2 p.m. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 10/27/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-10-27Set/Reset Hearings: Status Conference set for 11/7/2016, at 2:00 PM, in Courtroom 21, before Judge Randolph D. Moss. (zkt) (Entered: 10/27/2016)
2016-10-2810NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Christopher Charles Hair on behalf of All Defendants Substituting for attorney Michael B. Posner (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 10/28/2016)
2016-11-07Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Randolph D. Moss: Status Conference held on 11/7/2016. Joint Status Report due on or before 11/21/2016. (Court Reporter: Jeff Hook). (kt) (Entered: 11/07/2016)
2016-11-07MINUTE ORDER: As discussed at today's conference, it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall confer and file a joint status report on or before November 21, 2016, addressing the status of each of the six relevant requests and proposing next steps for the litigation. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 11/7/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 11/07/2016)
2016-11-2111Joint STATUS REPORT by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 11/21/2016)
2016-11-21MINUTE ORDER: As agreed to by the parties in their Joint Status Report 11 , it is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall submit a further status report on or before December 15, 2016. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 11/21/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 11/21/2016)
2016-11-22Set/Reset Deadlines: The parties shall submit a further status report on or before 12/15/2016. (kt) (Entered: 11/22/2016)
2016-12-1512PROPOSED BRIEFING SCHEDULE and Joint Status Report by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 12/15/2016)
2016-12-15MINUTE ORDER: It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall appear for a status conference on December 21, 2016, at 2 p.m., to discuss the proposed briefing schedule 12 . Any parties wishing to appear telephonically may do so, and should make arrangements with the Courtroom Deputy. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 12/15/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 12/15/2016)
2016-12-16Set/Reset Hearings: A Status Conference is set for 12/21/2016, at 2:00 PM, in Courtroom 21, before Judge Randolph D. Moss. (kt) (Entered: 12/16/2016)
2016-12-21Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Randolph D. Moss: Status Conference held on 12/21/2016. Scheduling Order forthcoming. (Court Reporter: Jeff Hook). (kt) (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2016-12-21MINUTE ORDER: As the parties agreed at today's status conference, it is hereby ORDERED that (1) Defendant shall file any motion for summary judgment on or before February 3, 2017; (2) Plaintiff shall file a combined opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment, if any, on or before March 6, 2017; (3) Defendant shall file a combined reply and opposition, if any, on or before March 27, 2017; and (4) Plaintiff shall file a reply, if any, on or before April 24, 2017. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 12/21/2016. (lcrdm3, ) (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2016-12-21Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant shall file any motion for summary judgment on or before 2/3/2017; Plaintiff shall file a combined opposition and cross-motion for summary judgment, if any, on or before 3/6/2017; Defendant shall file a combined reply and opposition, if any, on or before 3/27/2017; Plaintiff shall file a reply, if any, on or before 4/24/2017. (kt) (Entered: 12/21/2016)
2017-02-0313MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Tables of Contents and Authorities, # 3 Memorandum in Support, # 4 Text of Proposed Order, # 5 Declaration of David M. Hardy and FBI Exhibits, # 6 Declaration of Vanessa R. Brinkmann and OIP Exhibits)(Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 02/03/2017)
2017-02-14MINUTE ORDER: The clerk's office is hereby ORDERED to SEAL the Declaration of David M. Hardy and FBI Exhibits attached to defendant's motion for summary judgment [13-5]. Defendant shall file a public redacted version of that document on or before February 17, 2017. Signed by Judge Randolph D. Moss on 2/14/2017. (lcrdm2, ) (Entered: 02/14/2017)
2017-02-1514REDACTED DOCUMENT- Declaration of David M. Hardy and Redacted FBI Exhibits to 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 02/15/2017)
2017-03-0615Memorandum in opposition to re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Exhibit Index, # 3 Exhibit Volume 1, # 4 Exhibit Volume 2, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 03/06/2017)
2017-03-0616Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Statement of Facts, # 2 Exhibit Index, # 3 Exhibit Volume 1, # 4 Exhibit Volume 2, # 5 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 03/06/2017)
2017-03-2717Memorandum in opposition to re 16 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Second Declaration of David M. Hardy, # 2 Response to Plaintiff's Statement of Facts, # 3 Text of Proposed Order)(Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 03/27/2017)
2017-03-2718REPLY to opposition to motion re 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Attachments: # 1 Second Declaration of David M. Hardy)(Hair, Christopher) (Entered: 03/27/2017)
2017-04-2419REPLY to opposition to motion re 16 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit 1-12)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 04/24/2017)
2017-06-2620NOTICE OF SUBSTITUTION OF COUNSEL by Brian J. Field on behalf of All Defendants Substituting for attorney Christopher Hair (Field, Brian) (Entered: 06/26/2017)
2017-08-0121NOTICE OF SUPPLEMENTAL AUTHORITY by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Exhibit Memorandum Opinion in Mattachine Society of Washington, DC v. United States Department of Justice)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 08/01/2017)
2017-08-0922RESPONSE re 21 NOTICE OF SUPPLEMENTAL AUTHORITY filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. (Field, Brian) (Entered: 08/09/2017)
2017-11-01Case directly reassigned to Judge Trevor N. McFadden. Judge Randolph D. Moss is no longer assigned to the case. (ztnr) (Entered: 11/01/2017)
2017-11-28MINUTE ORDER. It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall appear for a hearing on the Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's 16 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment on 12/13/2017 at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 2, before Judge Trevor N. McFadden. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 11/28/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 11/28/2017)
2017-11-28Set/Reset Hearings: Motion Hearing scheduled for 12/13/2017, at 10:00 AM in Courtroom 2, before Judge Trevor N. McFadden. (hmc) (Entered: 11/28/2017)
2017-11-3023Consent MOTION to Continue December 13, 2017 hearing by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO (Attachments: # 1 Text of Proposed Order)(Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 11/30/2017)
2017-12-01MINUTE ORDER granting 23 Consent Motion to Continue Hearing. It is hereby ORDERED that the parties shall now appear on 12/20/2017 at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 2, before Judge Trevor N. McFadden. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 12/1/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 12/01/2017)
2017-12-01Set/Reset Hearings: Motion Hearing continued to 12/20/2017, at 10:30 AM in Courtroom 2, before Judge Trevor N. McFadden. (hmc) (Entered: 12/01/2017)
2017-12-18MINUTE ORDER. The Defendant is directed to electronically submit to the Court for in camera review, by December 19, 2017 at 3:00 p.m., unredacted versions of all documents sought to be withheld in their entirety. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 12/18/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 12/18/2017)
2017-12-19Set/Reset Deadlines: Unredacted versions of all documents for In-Camera review due by 12/19/2017, at 3:00 PM. (hmc) (Entered: 12/19/2017)
2017-12-1924NOTICE by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE re Order, (Field, Brian) (Entered: 12/19/2017)
2017-12-20Minute Entry for proceedings held before Judge Trevor N. McFadden: Motion Hearing held on 12/20/2017 regarding 13 MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE and 16 Cross MOTION for Summary Judgment filed by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO. (Court Reporter: Patricia Kaneshiro-Miller.) (hmc) (Entered: 12/20/2017)
2017-12-2025NOTICE regarding FOIA tracking numbers by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO re Motion Hearing, (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 12/20/2017)
2017-12-20MINUTE ORDER: As stated during the motion hearing held on December 20, 2017, the Defendant is directed to electronically submit to the Court for in camera review, by December 22, 2017 at 5 p.m., documents redacted pursuant to the deliberative process privilege, with portions withheld on the basis of the deliberative process privilege unredacted, as well as the accompanying Vaughn index or indices. Upon review of Plaintiff's 25 Notice clarifying request tracking numbers 1351095-000 and 1353203-000, Plaintiff is directed to file a notice, by December 22, 2017 at 5 p.m., clarifying the scope, agency determination, and result of any appeals pertaining to requests DOJ-2016-002983 and 1351095-000/1353203-000. SO ORDERED. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 12/20/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 12/20/2017)
2017-12-20Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's redacted documents for In-Camera review due by 12/22/2017, at 5:00 PM. Plaintiff's notice due by 12/22/2017, at 5:00 PM. (hmc) (Entered: 12/20/2017)
2017-12-2026NOTICE clarifying the scope, agency determination, and result of any appeals pertaining to requests DOJ-2016-002983 and 1351095-000/1353203-000 by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO re Order,,, (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 12/20/2017)
2017-12-2127Unopposed MOTION for Extension of Time to submit in camera filing by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Field, Brian) (Entered: 12/21/2017)
2017-12-21MINUTE ORDER: The Defendant's 27 Consent Motion for Extension of Time is hereby GRANTED. Defendant shall now electronically submit to the Court for in camera review, by December 29, 2017 at 5 p.m., documents redacted pursuant to the deliberative process privilege, with portions withheld on the basis of the deliberative process privilege unredacted, as well as the accompanying Vaughn index or indices. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 12/21/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 12/21/2017)
2017-12-21MINUTE ORDER: Upon consideration of the Defendant's 13 motion for summary judgment, Plaintiff's 16 cross-motion for summary judgment, and the representations made by counsel at the motions hearing held on December 20, 2017, it is hereby ORDERED that the Defendant shall, before or on January 10, 2018, perform ECF text searches of "94-HQ-69979" and "Operation Mosaic," and conduct a targeted physical search of the paper files in the "94" classification; or submit a supplemental declaration describing in greater detail the efforts that Defendant has taken with respect to these requests, including why these additional searches are not required by law. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 12/21/2017. (lctnm3) (Entered: 12/21/2017)
2017-12-22Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's redacted documents for In-Camera review due by 12/29/2017. (hmc) (Entered: 12/22/2017)
2017-12-22Set/Reset Deadlines: ECF text searches or supplemental declaration due by 1/10/2018. (hmc) (Entered: 12/22/2017)
2017-12-2928SEALED DOCUMENT filed by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE re Order,,, (This document is SEALED and only available to authorized persons.)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 12/29/2017)
2017-12-2929NOTICE of Ex Parte, In Camera Filing by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Field, Brian) (Entered: 12/29/2017)
2018-01-1030NOTICE of Filing Seidel Declaration by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE re Order,,, (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Decl. of M. Seidel)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 01/10/2018)
2018-01-12MINUTE ORDER. Upon review of the Defendant's 30 supplemental declaration, it is hereby ORDERED that the Defendant shall, on or before January 26, 2018, perform an ECF text search of "94-69979" or submit a supplemental declaration describing why this additional search is not required by law. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 1/11/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-12Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's ECF text search or supplemental declaration due by 1/26/2018. (hmc) (Entered: 01/12/2018)
2018-01-2231MOTION to Stay re Order, by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE (Field, Brian) (Entered: 01/22/2018)
2018-01-2232NOTICE of Consent by RYAN NOAH SHAPIRO re 31 MOTION to Stay re Order, (Light, Jeffrey) (Entered: 01/22/2018)
2018-01-23MINUTE ORDER denying Defendant's 31 Consent Motion to Stay as moot. In light of the temporary lapse of appropriations, the Defendant shall now, on or before January 30, 2018, perform an ECF text search of "94-69979" or submit a supplemental declaration describing why this additional search is not required by law. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 1/23/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-01-23Set/Reset Deadlines: Defendant's ECF text search or supplemental declaration due by 1/30/2018. (hmc) (Entered: 01/23/2018)
2018-01-2533TRANSCRIPT OF PROCEEDINGS before Judge Trevor N. McFadden held on December 20, 2017; Page Numbers: 1-51. Date of Issuance:January 25, 2018. Court Reporter/Transcriber Patricia A Kaneshiro-Miller, Telephone number 202-354-3243, Tape Number: Patricia_Kaneshiro-Miller@dcd.uscourts.gov. Transcripts may be ordered by submitting the Transcript Order Form For the first 90 days after this filing date, the transcript may be viewed at the courthouse at a public terminal or purchased from the court reporter referenced above. After 90 days, the transcript may be accessed via PACER. Other transcript formats, (multi-page, condensed, CD or ASCII) may be purchased from the court reporter. NOTICE RE REDACTION OF TRANSCRIPTS: The parties have twenty-one days to file with the court and the court reporter any request to redact personal identifiers from this transcript. If no such requests are filed, the transcript will be made available to the public via PACER without redaction after 90 days. The policy, which includes the five personal identifiers specifically covered, is located on our website at www.dcd.uscourts.gov. Redaction Request due 2/15/2018. Redacted Transcript Deadline set for 2/25/2018. Release of Transcript Restriction set for 4/25/2018.(pk) Modified date of hearing on 1/26/2018 (znmw). (Entered: 01/25/2018)
2018-01-3034NOTICE of Filing Third Hardy Declaration by DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE re Order on Motion to Stay, (Attachments: # 1 Declaration Third Declaration of David Hardy)(Field, Brian) (Entered: 01/30/2018)
2018-02-0135MEMORANDUM OPINION re Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment and Plaintiff's 16 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 2/1/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 02/01/2018)
2018-02-0136ORDER. For the reasons stated in 35 Memorandum Opinion, the Defendant's 13 Motion for Summary Judgment is GRANTED and the Plaintiff's 16 Cross-Motion for Summary Judgment is DENIED. This is a final, appealable Order. Signed by Judge Trevor N. McFadden on 2/1/2018. (lctnm3) (Entered: 02/01/2018)
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